List Item: Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die
Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
This is it, the last batch of songs from 1977 and we’re beginning with one of the biggest songs from one of the biggest cinema soundtracks ever. A song that has been used to teach CPR techniques thanks to it’s BPM and how ingrained in the pop culture it is.
In many ways, it’s a very deceptive song as nearly everything about it is meant to make you smile, want to dance and generally have a good time. However, within those falsetto voices are lyrics about surviving on the streets of New York City. It makes it a perfect match for the film Saturday Night Fever because that deals with a similar subject of duality.
I know that, from their previous song on the list, that disco was not what the Bee Gees set out to do – but they do it so well.
Wonderous Stories – Yes
This feels about as close as you can get to something resembling pop whilst remaining a prog rock out. It’s a ballad about a lovely day in Montreux, Switzerland and it’s just a very beautiful track. Also, for a prog rock song, it’s actually very simple. Sure there’s a lot going on with the electric sounds and the two types of guitar, but everything flows well together.
Apparently the band don’t like this song as it is too accessible. Makes sense, as I quite liked it.
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Classic! Rumours is one of the best albums ever produced and it’s hard to deny that this is a major highlight. The fact that Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life album gets two songs on this list and Rumours gets one is a choice. Would have been great to have had ‘The Chain’ on here for being a very different kind of song – but this list has bigger issues than that.
On an album of break-up songs, ‘Go Your Own Way’ is the song that works the best as that feeling of ‘just get out of my life’. Buckingham’s raw vocals and the fact that so much needed to be over-dubbed as they just weren’t recording together. It’s such a great song of catharsis and I’m going to listen to it again before moving on.
“Heroes” – David Bowie
Another iconic song here. Of course, me being me, I know this most from being in Moulin Rouge‘s ‘Elephant Love Medley’ as the section just before the big climax. It’s one of those songs that I know from so many different places like ‘Regular Show’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and a huge number of adverts that I am not sure how many times I’ve actually heard the whole song.
I love the story behind the recording of this album where they rigged three microphones at increasingly further distances away and, as the song progressed, the switched on microphone would move further from Bowie – which explains the increased intensity as the song goes on. It’s not my favourite Bowie, but definitely one I can admire.
Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers
Right, so this is the title song from the final Bob Marley album on my albums list. I know, from podcasts that I listen to, that so many musical artists that I love really have been inspired by his music. I just. I just can’t.
The first minute or two of the song was good, I can appreciate a good protest song or a song about politics – but there’s no moving from the first two minutes. It just felt cut and pasted enough times to fill eight minutes. At least with ‘I Feel Love’ there was variation to keep it going. I guess I should just rip off the plaster and cover this album…
River Song – Dennis Wilson
Why has the life of Dennis Wilson not been made into a miniseries. A man who was part of one of the biggest acts of the 1960s, was involved with Charles Manson, had troubles with drugs and then a tragic death at a young age.
What ‘River Song’ shows is that, whilst Brian Wilson was incredibly important to the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson had some great talent too. This is a beautiful song about someone seeking a simpler life. Knowing about some of his history, it’s sad he never found it.
Whole Lotta Rosie – AC/DC
Firstly, it’s glad to see that we are about to reach a far harder section of the list as a lot of these songs in today’s post have been on the quieter side. Also, how great is it to have a hard rock song that celebrates a plus-sized woman for being an excellent lover. It’s a song that is weirdly body positive… which isn’t something I was expecting when I saw the title.
Black Generation – Richard Hell & The Voidoids
Punk isn’t dead yet (then again, why would it be, this list isn’t in completely alphabetical order) so it’s nice to have it as the genre for one of the year’s final songs. In the end, like it or loathe it, the journey to punk has been a large part of the last 10-12 posts in the songs list. Now it’s time to see where that journey is heading now.
For a punk song it’s melodic (think more Clash or Ramones) and was a song that helped influence ‘Pretty Vacant’ by the Sex Pistols. It’s just one of those weird quirks of release schedules that ‘Blank Generation’ and it’s album were released after the Sex Pistols exploded.
Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf
Man this song is so over the top, but that really is the charm of it. It reminds me of an overblown version of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’, but with more drama and less heart. Then there are elements that feel drawn from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
I have a feeling that this song is on the list because it’s the title track of the classic slow burn album that has become iconic. They really should have put on ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’ as that does everything ‘Bat Out of Hell’ does and a whole lot better.
Lust for Life – Iggy Pop
Okay, fine, I get how the Lust for Life album can end up with two tracks on the list. That drumbeat is just so iconic. It’s weird when you’ve heard an element of a song in so many places and then, for the first time, actually hear it in context.
I’m really not sure how this can fit on the same album as ‘The Passenger’, but one day I’m sure I’ll find out. In the end though, I’m not so keen on the rest of the song outside of the drumbeat – but it does makes for a cool way to end the year.